References: Satish Chandra(Medieval India).Also minor facts from other books and figure and facts from verified Internet sources.
27. AURANGJEB- RELIGIOUS POLICIES,NORTH INDIA AND RAJPUTS


War of Succession
Shah Jahan was fortunate in having four sons, all born of his cherished wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who grew
up to be capable, hard working and free of the Mughal vice of drunkenness. They were given
administrative responsibilities and high mansabs as they grew up. Shuja, the second eldest was
appointed governor of Bengal in 1637, and kept good control over that tubulent province for the next
two decades. The youngest, Murad, was appointed. governor of Gujarat to which Malwa was added
later on. Aurangzeb was appointed viceroy of the Deccan in 1636 at the young age of eighteen, and held
it for the next six years. He was appointed viceroy of the Deccan again in 1652. The eldes, Dara, was
appointed governor of Allahabad and then of Lahore. But he was his father’s favourite, and most of the
time he remained with him at the court. This led to resentment against him by the other three brothers
who gradually came together in a kind of a coalition which turned against Dara. Thus, in 1652, Shuja
betrothed his daughter to Aurangzeb’s eldest son, Sultan Muhammad, and Aurangzeb promised, his
daughter to Shuja’s son. Murad also became friendly with Aurangzeb.
The very capacity of the princes made the problem of succession more difficult, and threatened to make
it long and bloody. There was no clear tradition of succession among the Muslims. While the consent of
the people had been asserted at the beginning, the right of nomination of a successor by a successful
ruler had come slowly to prevail, and even accepted by some political thinkers. However, no special
rights had been given to the eldest born. The Timurid tradition of partitioning had not been accepted in
India,
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though it kept on raising its head. In the ultimate resort, connections among the powerful military
leaders, and military strength and capacity had become the real arbiters.
There were no clear traditions of succession among the Hindus either. Right from the time of the
Buddha when Ajatshatru had displaced and imprisoned his father, and later during Ashoka Maurya’s
struggle against his brothers succession had been dependent on military strength. This had also been
the tradition of the Rashtrakutas, and later of the Rajputs. Thus, Sanga had to wage a bitter struggle
with his brothers before he could assert his claim to the gaddi.
Shah Jahan who had been residing in the new city of Shahjahanabad or Delhi which he had recently
constructed, was taken ill with stranguary in September 1657. For some time, his life was despaired of,
but he rallied and gradually recovered his strength under the loving care of Dara. Meanwhile, all kinds of
rumours had gained currency. It was said that Shah Jahan had already died, and Dara was concealing the
reality to serve his own purposes. In December 1657, Shah Jahan was well enough to slowly make his
way to Agra. Meanwhile, the princes, Shuja in Bengal, Murad in Gujarat and Aurangzeb in the Deccan
.had either been persuaded that these rumours were true, or pretended to believe them, and made
preparations for the inevitable war of succession.
Shah Jahan had long considered Dara as his rightful successor. As early as 1654, he had been given the
title of Sultan Buland Iqbal, given a golden chair next to the throne, and his mansab raised progressively
till in 1658 he received the unprecedented rank of 60,000 zat, 40,000 sawar (of which 30,000 were duaspa sihaspa). Dara was also nominated as his successor (wali ahd), and the nobles were asked to obey
him as their future sovereign. But these actions, far from ensuring a smooth succession as Shah Jahan
had hoped, convinced the other princes of Shah Jahan’s partiality to Dara. It thus strengthened their
resolve of making a bid for the throne.
The conflict between Dara, his father’s favourite, and Aurangzeb, the most energetic of Shah Jahan’s
sons, was heightened by Aurangzeb’s suspicion that Dara had consistently
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used his influence with Shah-Jahan to try to humiliate and thwart him. Thus, when Aurangzeb was
transferred to the Decan from Multan and Sindh after the failure of his two campaigns against
Qandahar, his jagirs were also transferred to the Deccan which was less productive so that Aurangzeb
suffered a big loss. The Deccan was also a chronically deficit area. In consequence, the expenses of its
government had to be made up by cash subsidies from Malwa and Gujarat. Shah jahan’s constant refrain
was-that the deficit should be met by expanding and improving cultivation. Aurangzeb tried to do so
with the help of Murshid Quli Khan who was the diwan of the Deccan. But Shah jahan was impatient,
and unfairly accused Aurangzeb of negligence and incompetence. He accused him of appropriating the
most productive villages in the jagirs allotted to the nobles posted, there. Matters reached such a pitch
that Shah Jahan even accused Aurangzeb of keeping for himself most of the mangoes from one of Shah
jahan’s favourite mango tree at Burhanpur!
In order to meet his financial difficulties, Aurangzeb tried to persuade Shah Jahan to permit attacking
Golconda and Bijapur, both for getting a part of the treasures they had gathered during their campaigns
in the Karnataka, and to gain more territory. Aurangzeb felt cheated when Shah Jahan entered into “a
compromise with Bijapur and Golconda, whereas Aurangzeb felt he was on the verge of total victory. In
both cases. he accused Dara of intervention, and of having been bribed by the Deccani fillers. However,
Shah Jahan was in full control at the time, and there is no reason to believe that he acted primarily at
Dara’s instance.
The character and outlook of Dara and Aurangzeb were very dissimilar. Dara constantly associated with
liberal sufi and Bhakti saints, and was deeply interested in the question of monotheism. He had studied
the testaments, and the Vedas, arid was convinced that the Vedas supplemented the Quran in the
understanding of monotheism. On the other hand, Aurangzeb was devoted to the study of the Quran
and the hagiological literature, arid was strict the observance of the various religious rituals. Dara called
Aurangzeb a hypocrite’, and Aurangzeb called Dara a heretic’. But it would be wrong to think that the
difference of outlook between the two led to a division of the nobility into two comps liberal and
orthodox. The nobles acted on the basis of their personal contacts, interests etc. On their part, the
princes tried to win over the influential nobles and rajas to their side by establishing personal
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linkages and holding out favours to them. Thus, Aurangzeb had been in contact with Jai Singh at least
since 1636. In a letter to Jai Singh dated 1647 Aurangzeb acknowledges the Raja’s allegiance to him,
though outwardly inclined towards Shuja.
On hearing the military preparations of Shuja, Murad and Aurangzeb, and their decision to march to
Agra, on the ostensible pretext of visiting their father and freeing him from the control of the ‘heretical’
Dara, Shah Jahan, at the instance of Dara, sent .an army to the east, led by Dara’s eldest son Sulaima
Shikoh and aided by Mirza Raja Jai Singh, to deal with Shuja who had crowned himself. Another army
was sent to Malwa under Raja Jaswant Singh to persuade Murad who was advancing from Gujarat after
crowning himself to turn back. However, on arrival at Dharmat in Malwa, Jaswant Singh found that the
forces of Murad and Aurangzeb had joined. Jaswant Singh had no clear instructions how to deal with
this situation. The two princes asked him to stand aside and let them proceed to Agra. Although for a
mere noble to fight princes of blood was against etiquette, and the combined forces of the two princes
were superior, Jaswant considered retreat to be dishonourable. The victory of Aurangzeb at Dharmat
(15 April 1658) emboldened his supporters and raised his prestige, while it dispirited Dara and his
supporters.
Meanwhile, Dara made a serious mistake. Over confident of the strength of his position, he had assigned
for the eastern campaign some of his best troops. Thus, he denuded the capital, Agra. Led by Sulaiman
Shikoh, the army moved to the east and gave a good account of itself. It surprised and defeated Shuja
near Banaras (February 1658). It then decided to pursue him into Bihar – as if the issue at Agra had been
already decided. After the defeat of Jaswant Singh at Dharmat, express letters were sent to these forces
to hurry back to Agra. After patching up a hurried treaty (7 May 1658), Sulaiman Shikoh started his
march to Agra from his camp near Monghyr in eastern Bihar. But it was hardly likely that he .could
return to Agra in time for the likely conflict with Aurangzeby
After Dharmat, Dara made frantic efforts to seek allies. He sent repeated letters to Jaswant Singh who
had retired to Jodhpur. The Rana of Udaipur was also approached. Jaswant Singh moved out tardily to
Pushkar near Ajmer. After raising an army with the money provided by Dara, he waited there for the
Rana to join him. But the Rana had already been won over by Aurangzeb. Thus, Dara failed to win over
even the important Rajput rajas to his side.
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The battle of Samugarh (29 May 1658) was basically a battle of good generalship, the sides being almost
equally matched in numbers (about 50,000 to 60,000 on each side). In the field, Dara was no match for
Aurangzeb. The Hada Rajputs and the Saiyids of Barha upon whom Dara largely depended could not
make up for the weakness of the rest of the hastily recruited army. Aurangzeb’s troops were battle
hardened and well led.
Not only was Dara no match for Aurangzeb as a general, he had become arrogant and too self-confident
of himself. Thus, he failed to win over the nobles in general to his side. Nor was he prepared to heed to
the advice of others more capable than him. It was a fatal error on his part to confront Aurangzeb
himself on the field of battle while Shah Jahan was still the reigning sovereign, and had been advised
that he should himself meet Aurangzeb on the field of battle if he refused to recant.
The war between Aurangzeb and Dara was not between religious orthodoxy on the one hand, and
liberalism on the other. Both Muslims and Hindu nobles were equally divided in their support to the two
rivals. We have already seen the attitude of the leading Rajput rajas. Similarly, Shiahs were almost
equally divided between Aurangzeb and Dara. A recent study shows that among nobles of 1000 zat rank
and above, upto the battles of Samugarh, 27 Iranis supported Aurangzeb, and 23 of them sided with
Dara. In this conflict, as in so many others, the attitude of the nobles depended upon their personal
interests and their association with individual princes.
There is little reason to accept the widespread belief that like the nobles, members of the royal family
were also divided in their support to the various contending princes, princess Jahanara beings partisan
of Dara, Rausharara a supporter of Aurangzeb, and. Gauharara a spy for Murad. Contemporary
correspondence including letters’ of Aurangzeb show that though Jahanara was close to Dara in his
religious quest and shared his eclectic outlook, she did not close her doors to her other brothers. Since
she was considered to be close to Shah Jahan, the various princes, including Aurangzeb, wrote to her,
seeking her support and intermission with the Emperor on their behalf, and on many occasions, she
helped them.
After the defeat and flight of Dara, Shah Jahan was besieged in the fort of Agra Aurangzeb forced Shah
Jahan into surrender by seizing the source of water supply to the fort. Shah Jahan was
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confined to the female apartments in the fort and strictly supervised, though he was not ill-treated.
There he lived for eight long years, lovingly nursed by his favourite daughter Jahanara, who voluntarily
chose to live within the fort. She re-emerged into public life after Shah Jahan’s death and was accorded
great honour by Aurangzeb who visited her regularly, and restored her to the position of the first lady of
the realm. He also raised her annual pension from twelve lakh rupees to seventeen lakhs.
According to the terms of Aurangzeb’s agreement with Murad, the kingdom was to be partitioned
between the two, with Murad ruling Punjab, Kabul, Kashmir and Sindh. But Aurangzeb had no intention
of sharing the empire. Hence, he treacherously imprisoned Murad and sent him to the Gwaliyar jail. He
was killed two years later.
After losing the battle at Samugarh, Dara had fled to Lahore and was planning to retain control of its
surrounding areas. But Aurangzeb soon arrived in the neighbourhood, leading a strong army. Dara’s
courage failed him. He abandoned Lahore without a fight and fled to Sindh. Thus, he virtually sealed his
fate. Although the civil war was dragged on for more than two years, its outcome was hardly in doubt.
Dara’s move from Sindh into Gujarat and then into Ajmer on an invitation from Jaswant Singh, the ruler
of Marwar, and the subsequent treachery of the latter are too well known. The battle of Deorai near
Ajmer (March 1659) was the last major battle Dara fought against Aurangzeb. Dara might well have
escarped into Iran, but he wanted to try his luck again in Afghanistan. On the way, in the Bolan Pass, a
treacherous Afghan chief made him a prisoner and handed him over to his dreaded enemy. A panel of
jurists decreed that Dara could not be suffered to live “out of necessity to protect the faith and Holy law,
and also for reasons of state, (and) as a destroyer of the public peace.” This is typical of the manner in
which Aurangzeb used religion as a cloak for his political motives. Two years after Dara’s execution, his
son, Sulaiman Shikoh, who had sought shelter with the ruler of Garhwal was handed over by him to
Aurangzeb on an imminent threat of invasion. He soon suffered the same fate as his father.
Earlier, Aurangzeb had defeated Shuia at Khajwah near Allahabad (December 1658). Further
campaigning against him was entrusted to Mir Jumla who steadily exerted pressure till Shuja was
hounded out of India into Arakan (April 1660). Soon afterwards, he
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and his family met a dishonourable death at the hands of the Arakanese on a charge of fomenting
rebellion.
The civil war which kept the empire distracted for more than two years showed that neither nomination
by the ruler, nor plans of division of the empire were likely to be accepted by the contenders for the
throne. Military force became the only arbiter for succession and the civil wars became steadily more
destructive. After being seated securely on the throne, Aurangzeb tried to mitigate, to some extent, the
effects of the harsh Mughal custom of war unto death between brothers. At the instance of Jahanara
Begum, Sipihr Shikoh, son of Dara, was released from prison in 1671, given a mansab and married to a
daughter of Aurangzeb. Murad’s son, Izzat Bakhsh, was also released, given a mansab and married to
another daughter of Aurangzeb. Earlier, in 1669, Dara’s daughter, Jani Begum, who had been looked
after by Jahanara as her own daughter, was married to Aurangzeb’s third son, Muhammad Azam. There
were many other marriages between Aurangzeb’s family and the children and grandchildren of his
defeated brothers. Thus, in the third generation, the families of Aurangzeb and his defeated brothers
became one.
Aurangzeb’s Reign and his Religious Policies
Aurangzeb ruled for almost 50 years. During his long reign, the Mughal empire reached its territorial
climax. At its height, it stretched from Kashmir in the north to Jinji in the south, and from the Hindukush
in the west to Chittagong in the east. Aurangzeb proved to be a hardw orking ruler, and never spared
himself or his subordinates in the tasks of government. His letters show the close attention he paid to all
affairs of state. He was a strict disciplinarian who did not spare his own sons. In 1686, he imprisoned
prince Muazzam on a charge of intriguing with the ruler of Golconda, and kept him in prison for 12 long
years. His other sons also had to face his wrath on various occasions. Such was the awe of Aurangzeb
that even late in his life, when Muazzam was governor of Kabul, he trembled every time he received a
letter from his father who was then in south India. Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb did not like
ostentation. His personal life was marked by simplicity. As a pious Muslims, he copied the Quarn and
even stitched caps which were sold. But we can hardly accept the account of some contemporary
writers that he met his personal expenses by these means. Aurangzeb had a
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number of wives and mistresses, including the slave girl, Hira Bai (later entitled Zainabadi Mahal) whom
he met and married in 1652. Udaipuri Mahal, his favourite, was a Georgian slave girl who had previously
belonged to Dara’s haram. All of them were maintained in an appropriate style.
Aurangzeb himself was a learned man. Apart from memorizing the Quran after his accession, he was
well read in the hadis and Muslim jurisprudence. He was fond of the works of the orthodox Imam
Ghazali, as also of Sadi and the liberal sufis, Hafiz and Maulana Rum.
Historians are deeply divided about Aurangzeb’s achievements as a ruler. According to some, he
reversed Akbar’s policy of religious toleration and thus undermined the loyalty of the Hindus to the
empire, in turn, leading to popular uprisings which sapped the vitality of the empire. His suspicious
nature and his insistence on strictly following the injunctions of the sharia and refusing to give drastic
punishments added to his problems so that in the words of Khafi Khan, “all his enterprises were long
drawn” and ended in failure. Some modern historians think that Aurangzeb has been unjustly maligned,
that the Hindus had become disloyal and too powerful due to the laxity of Aurangzeb’s predecessors, so
that Aurangzeb had no option but to adopt harsh methods and to try to rally the Muslims on whose
support in the long run the empire had to rest. In the recent writings on Aurangzeb, efforts have been
made to assess Aurangzeb’s political and religious policies in the context of social, economic and
institutional developments. There is little doubt about his being orthodox  in his beliefs. He was not
interested in philosophical debates or in mysticism – though he did occasionally visit Sufi saints for their
blessings, and did not debar his sons from dabbling in Sufism. It would be wrong, however, to see
Aurangzeb’s religious policy in a rigid framework, based on his personal religious beliefs. As a ruler,
Aurangzeb had to contend with many political, economic, social and administrative problems. While
keen to ensure that the state did not violate the sharia, he could not forget the political reality that any
policy which meant the complete alienation of the numerous and powerful Hindu nobles, rajas and
zamindars would be unworkable.
For purposes of analysis, Aurangzeb’s religious policies can be divided into two broad phases, the first
lasting upto 1679, and the
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second from 1679 to his death in 1707. These two broad phases are divisible into several sub-phases.
The first phase : 1658-1679
A number of moral and religious regulations were issued by Aurangzeb shortly after his accession. He
banned sijda or prostration before the ruler, something which the clerics had maintained was reserved
for God. Aurangzeb also forbade the kalma being inscribed on coins – since coins could be trampled
underfoot or be defiled while passing from hand to hand. He discontinued the festival of Nauroz as it
was considered a Zoroastrian practice and was favoured by the Safavid rulers of Iran. Muhtasibs were
appointed in all the provinces. These officials were asked to see that people lived their lives in
accordance with the sharia. Thus, it was the business of these officials to see that wine and intoxicants
such as bhang were not consumed in public places. They were also responsible for regulating the houses
of ill repute, gambling dens, etc. and for checking weights and measures. In other words, they were
responsible for ensuring that things forbidden by the sharia and the zawabits (secular decrees) were, as
far as possible, not flouted openly. However, if the Italian traveller, Manucci, who lived in India for a
long time, is to be believed, all these regulations were flouted openly. In appointing muhtasibs,
Aurangzeb emphasised that the state was also responsible for the moral welfare of the citizens. But the
officials were instructed not to interfere in the private lives of citizens.
In the eleventh year of his reign (1669), Aurangzeb took a number of measures which have been called
puritanical, but many of which were of an economic and social character, or against superstitious
beliefs. Thus, he forbade singing in the court, the official musicians being pensioned off. Instrumental
music and naubat (the royal band) were, however, continued. Singing also continued to be patronized
by the ladies in the haram, and by individual nobles. It is of some interest to note that the largest
number of Persian works on classical Indian music were written in Aurangzeb’s reign, and that
Aurangzeb himself was proficient in playing the veena. Thus, the jibe of Aurangzeb to the protesting
musicians that they should bury the bier of music they were carrying deep under the earth “so that no
echo of it may rise again” was only an angry remark.
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Aurangzeb discontinued the practice of jharoka darshana or showing himself to the public from the
balcony, since he considered it a superstitious practice and against Islam. Similarly, he forbade the
ceremony of weighing the emperor against gold and silver and other articles on his birthdays. This
practice which was apparently started during Akbar’s reign had become widespread and was a burden
on the smaller nobles. But the weight of social opinion was too much. Aurangzeb had to permit this
ceremony for his sons when they recovered from illness. He forbade astrologers to prepare almanacs.
But the order was flouted by everybody, including members of the royal family.
Many other regulations of a similar nature, some of a moral character and some to instill a sense of
austerity, and some to ban practices considered against the Islamic spirit, were issued. Thus, the
practice of the Emperor putting a tika or saffron paste on the forehead of a new raja was stopped. Public
display of Holi and Muharram processions were also stopped. The courtiers were also asked not to wear
silk gowns, or gowns of mixed silk and cotton. The throne room was to be furnished in a cheap and
simple style; clerks were to use porcelain ink-stands instead of silver ones; the gold railings in the diwani-am were replaced by those of lapis lazuli set on gold. Even the official department of history writing
was discontinued as a measure of economy.
Although displaying a puritanical frame of mind, these measures were prompted, in part, by a financial
crisis which Aurangzeb faced around this time. Following the set back caused by the civil war, for a
succession of years after 1660, there was scanty rainfall and crop failure in one province after another.
After his accession, Aurangzeb had forbidden rahdari or transit duty and a large number of cesses, rural
and urban, considered illegal. Although many of these cesses had been prohibited by earlier rulers, they
had continued to be collected by the jagirdars, and sometimes even in the khalisa or reserved domains.
We do not know how seriously these prohibitions were implemented, but we are told that in the khalisa
areas alone, rahdari had yielded 25 lakhs of rupees a year. Another tax was pandari or ground rent for
stalls in the bazar in the capital and other towns. Another vexatious tax which was abolished in 1666 was
the octroi duty on tobacco.
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According to the Maasir-i-Alamgiri, the semi-official history of Aurangzeb, in the thirteenth year, it was
reported that expenses had exceeded income during the preceding twelve years. Some of the measures
of economy adopted by Aurangzeb were “the retrenchment of many items in the expenditure of the
Emperor, the princes and the Begums”.
It seems that Aurangzeb was keen to promote trade among the Muslims who depended almost
exclusively on state support. In 1665, he reduced the duty on import of goods by Muslim traders from
five per cent to two and a half per cent, and two years later abolished it altogether. But he had to re -impose it when he found that Muslim traders were abusing i t by presenting goods of Hindu traders as
theirs! However, it was kept at two and a half per cent for the Muslims.
Similarly, in 1671 he passed orders that karoris of all crown-lands should be Muslims and all governors
and local officials were asked to dismiss their accountants diiwan) and clerks (peshkars) and replace
them by Muslims. But this led to an uproar among the nobles, since sufficient competent Muslims were
not available. According to Khafi Khan, the measure was, therefore, withdrawn, a fact which many
historians fail to notice.
However, these again showed a narrow and limited outlook on the part of Aurangzeb, particularly on
social and economic issues.
Hindu Temples
We may now turn our attention to some of the other measures of Aurangzeb which may be called
discriminatory and show a sense of bigotry towards people professing other religions. The most
important were Aurangzeb’s attitude towards temples, and the levying of jizyah.
At the outset of his reign, Aurangzeb reiterated the position of the sharia regarding temples,
syanagogues, churches, etc. that “long standing temple should not be demolished but no new temples
allowed to be built.” Further, old places of worship could be repaired “since buildings cannot last for
ever”. This position is clearly spelt out in a number of extant farmans he issued to the brahmanas of
Banaras, Vrindavan, etc.1
1The Banaras farmat is in the National Library, Calcutta, and the Vrindavan farman is presently in a
temple at Jaipur.
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Aurangzeb’s order regarding temples was not a new one. It reaffirmed the position which had existed
during the Sultanat period and which had been reiterated by Shah Jahan early in his reign. In practice, it
left wide latitude to the local officials as to the interpretation of the words “long standing”. The private
opinion and sentiment of the ruler in the matter was also bound to weigh with the officials. For
example, after the rise of the liberal-minded Dara as Shah Jahan’s favourite, few temples had been
demolished in pursuance of his order regarding new temples. Aurangzeb, as governor of Gujarat,
ordered a number of new temples in Gujarat to be destroyed, which often meant merely defacing the
images and bricking up the temples. At the outset of his reign, Aurangzeb found that the images in these
temples had been restored and idol worship had been resumed. Aurangzeb, therefore, ordered again in
1665 that these temples be destroyed. The famous temple of Somnath which he had ordered to be
destroyed earlier in his reign was apparently one of the temples mentioned above.
Aurangzeb’s order regarding ban on new temples did not, apparently lead to a large-scale destruction of
temples at the outset of the reign. As Aurangzeb encountered political opposition from a number of
quarters, such as the Marathas, Jats, etc., he seems to have adopted a new stance. In case of conflict
with local elements, he now considered it legitimate to destroy even long standing Hindu temples as a
measure of punishment and as a warning. Further, he began to look upon temples as centres of
spreading subversive ideas, that is, ideas which were not acceptable to the orthodox elements. Thus, he
took strict action when he learnt in 1669 that in some of the temples in Thatta, Multan and especially at
Banaras, both Hindus and Muslims used to come from great distances to learn from the brahmans.
Aurangzeb issued orders to the governors of all provinces to put down such practices and to destroy the
temples where such practices took place. As a result of these orders, a number of temples such as the
famous temple of Vishwanath at Banaras, and the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura built by Bir Singh
Deo Bundela in the reign of Jahangir were destroyed and mosques erected in their place. The
destruction of these temples had a political motive as well. Mustaid Khan, author of the Maasir-iAlamgiri says, with reference to the destruction of the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura, “On seeing
this instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud
rajas were
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stifled, and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall”.
It was in this context that many temples built in Orissa during the last ten to twelve years were
destroyed. But it is wrong to think that there were any orders for the general destruction of temples.
Mustaid Khan, who wrote his history of Aurangzeb in the early part of the eighteenth century and who
had been closely associated with Aurangzeb, asserts that the motive of Aurangzeb was to “establish
Islam” and that the Emperor ordered the governors to destroy all temples and to ban public practice of
the religion of these misbelievers, that is, the Hindus. If Mustaid Khan’s version was correct, it would
have meant Aurangzeb going beyond the position of the sharia, for the sharia did not ban the nonMuslims from practising their faiths as along as they observed certain conditions, such as loyalty to the
ruler, etc. Nor have we found any farmans to the governors ordering general destruction of temples, as
suggested by Mustaid Khan.
The situation was different during periods of hostilities. Thus, during 1679-80, when there was a state of
war with the Rathors of Marwar and the Rana of Udaipur, many temples of old standing were destroyed
at Jodhpur and its parganas, and at Udaipur.
In his policy towards temples, Aurangzeb may have remained formally within the framework of the
sharia, but there is little doubt that his stand in the matter was a setback to the p olicy of broad
toleration followed by his predecessors. It led to a climate of opinion that destruction of temples on any
excuse would not only be condoned but would be welcomed by the emperor. We do have instances of
grants to Hindu temples and mathas by Aurangzeb. Thus, he gave grant to the gurudwara of Guru Ram
Das at Dehra Dun. Grants to other temples have also been listed. Although an order had been issued in
Gujarat in 1672 banning revenue-free grants to Hindus, such grants continued to be given to some of
the Vaishnava temples at Vrindavan, to the jogis at Jakhbar in Punjab, to the Nath Panthi jogis in Sarkar
Nagaur, and grant of 100 pakka bighas of land to Panth Bharati in pargana Siwana in Rajasthan “since he
feeds travellers and is worthy of offering prayers”. There are instances of grants to others also.
However, there is little doubt that the trend was to limit revenue-free grants given to non-Muslims.
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On the whole, the atmosphere created by Aurangzeb’s restrictive policy towards the Hindus, and of his
demolition of many temples of old standing on one ground or another was bound to create disquiet
among a large section of the Hindus, leading to disaffection and opposition.
Jizyah
Although Aurangzeb had not raised the slogan of defending Islam before the battle of Samugarh with
Dara, and had tried to befriend the Rajput rajas as we have seen, there were a number of factors which
make it necessary for Aurangzeb to present himself as the defender of the sharia, and to try and win
over the theologians. A principal factor was the popular revulsion against his imprisonment of his father,
Shah Jahan, and his treatment of his brothers, Murad and Dara, both of whom had the reputation of
being liberal patrons of the poor and the needy. Aurangzeb was shocked when at the time of his second
coronation in 1659, the chief qazi refused to crown him since his father was alive. However, Aurangzeb
was rescued when Qazi Abdul Wahab Gujarati gave a ruling that since Shah Jahan was too feeble to
discharge the duties of sovereignty, it was legitimate to crown him. Aurangzeb rewarded Abdul Wahab
by making him the Chief Qazi.
Aurangzeb rewarded the theologians not only by putting down practices considered un-Islamic, as we
have noted. He renovated mosques and monastries which had fallen into disrepair, and appointed
imams, muezzins and attendants with salaries. The theologians were obviously the main beneficiaries of
these measures.
Another step taken at this time which would have gladdened the hearts of the orthodox ulama was the
revival of pilgrim taxes on the Hindus at Mathura, Kurukshetra etc., thus reversing Akbar’s policy in the
matter.
However, the major problem Aurangzeb faced was the question of jizyah. Orthodox clerical opinion had
been demanding its reimposition on the ground that it was wajib (compulsory) according to the sharia,
and also because they felt that jizyah was
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a means of asserting the superior status of the theologians and Islam, and emphasing the dependent
and inferior position of the non-Muslims in an essentially Islamic state. We are told that immediately
after his accession, Aurangzeb considered reimposition of jizyah, but postponed the matter due to
“certain political exigencies”. That it was re-imposed twenty-two years after Aurangzeb’s accession to
the throne is a clear indication that its institution was on account of political considerations, not “to
promote the faith and to promote the laws of the sharia” as was the official explanation and has been
dutifully reproduced by a number of contemporaries.
According to some English factors and the Italian, Manucci, Aurangzeb was motivated by the need to
replenish his treasury, which had been exhausted by wars, and to compel the poorer Hindus to convert
to Islam.
According to some modern historians, Aurangzeb was justified in imposing jizyah which was sanctioned
by sharia since he had abolished the various taxes considered illegal.
However, these arguments do not stand up to a critical scrutiny. We are told by the contemporary Khafi
Khan that the various taxes remitted by the Emperor, continued to be included in the jama dami or the
assessed income of the jagirs. In consequence, the remissions remained a dead letter.
Second, the income from jizyah was put in a separate treasury the proceeds from which were disbursed
among the needy Muslims. Thus, it hardly relieved the general treasury.
Regarding the economic impact of jizyah on poor Hindus, it should be borne in mind that the Hindus had
the reputation of being very strong in their faith, this being conceded by sufis, such as Nizamuddin
Auliya, many poets and other thinkers. Although jizyah had been levied and collected since the
establishment of the Delhi Sultanat, it had not led to any large scale conversions. Nor did it happen
during Aurangzeb’s reign, else Aurangzeb would have been praised to the skies for his great success. As
is well known, large scale conversions in Sindh, West Punjab, Kashmir and East Bengal had taken place
much before Aurangzeb’s accession.
Nevertheless, jizyah was regressive and bore more heavily on the poor than on the more affluent. The
assessees were
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divided into three classes according to property i.e. those with property less than 200 dirham, those
between 200 to 10,000 dirham, and those above, 10,000 dirham. They paid 12, 24 or 48 dirham or Rs.
3/1/3, Rs. 6/2/3 and Rs. 13/1/3 per year. The tax bore most heavily on the first of these, called tailors,
dyers, cobblers, shoemakers etc. since the average wage of a worker or artisan in those days was about
Rs. 3 per month. However, it should be noted that apart from women, the insane and those in
government service who were exempt, jizyah was not levied on the indigent who is defined as one who
owned no property, and whose income from labour did not exceed his and his family’s necessities. In
other words, jizyah was a property tax, not an income tax.
What, then, were the motives of Aurangzeb in reimposing jizyah after such a long lapse after his
accession? It would appear that he took this step at a time when he was facing a growing political crisis.
By 1676, all efforts to conciliate Shivaji had failed. After crowning himself, he had gone on to make
extensive conquests in the South, with the active aid and support of the brothers, Madanna and
Akhanna, who dominated Golconda. Following the internal dissolution of the state of Bijapur, Aurangzeb
had launched a series of wars aimed at its conquest and the containments of the Marathas. But these
had failed. To the essentially conservative mind of Aurangzeb, he hoped to meet the situation by a
striking declaration which would rally the Muslims behind him, especially if he decided to invade the
brother Muslim rulers of the Deccan, as appeared likely.
The reimposition of jizyah was not only meant to serve this purpose but to further cement his alliance
with the theologians. Jizyah was to be collected by honest, God-fearing Muslims, who were especially
appointed for the purpose. Its proceeds which we are told, amounted to rupees four crores in the entire
kingdom, which was a large sum of money, and was reserved for the ulama. It was thus a big bribe for
the theologians among whom there was a lot of unemployment. But the disadvantages outweighed the
possible advantages of the step. It was bitterly resented by the Hindus who considered it as a mark of
discrimination. Its mode of collection also had some special features. The payee was required to pay it
personally and sometimes in the process he suffered humiliation at the hands of the theologians. In the
rural areas, amins were appointed for collecting jizyah, but, perhaps, the amount was collected along
with the land revenue. In the
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cities well-to-do Hindus were often harassed by the collectors of jizyah. We, therefore, hear of a number
of occasions when Hindu traders shut their shops and observed hartal against the measure. Also, there
was a lot of corruption, and it is said that the collectors of jizyah made lakhs. In a number of instances,
the atnin or collector of jizyah was killed for his extortionate ways.
Jizyah may also be seen as the final step to establish the hegemonic position of Islam in the state. While
this did not necessarily mean oppression of the non-Muslims, or denying them the regulated religious
freedom as dhimmis or protected people, it implied giving the Muslims a superior position.
Aurangzeb’s religious policies led to a series of contradictions, which he found hard to resolve. Although
Aurangzeb tried as far as possible to satisfy the orthodox clerical elements, even he could not fulfil
completely the “orthodox” agenda put forward by men like Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi. He refused to throw
the Hindu rajas and others out of the service of the state, saying tersely on a petition “What connection
does religion have with worldly affairs”? And what right have matters of religion to enter into bigotry?
For you is your religion, for me is mine. If this rule (suggested by you) were established it would be my
duty to extirpate all (Hindu) rajas and their followers.” In fact, the number of Hindus in the imperial
service increased, both in absolute numbers and proportionately at all levels during the second half of
his reign, as we shall note.
The Second Phase : 1679-1707
Aurangzeb’s modern biographer, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, was of the opinion that “Neither age nor
experience of life softened Aurangzeb’s bigotry.” However, recent research leads us to modify this
opinion.
Between 1679 and 1687, Aurangzeb tried to project himself as “the asylum of Muslims”, who “honours
none but the people of the true faith”. During the period, the Deccani rulers were denounced as “lustful
and sinful” for their alliance with the Maratha infidels so that “no respect was left for Islam and its
adherants; mosques were without splendour while idol-temples flourished.” (Maasir-i-Alarngiri).
It was during this period that conversion of individuals, often for petty gains, was made much of, though
privately Aurangzeb complained of the boastfulness and lack of manners of some of the new converts.
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However, by these means Aurangzeb could neither detach the Deccani rulers from their alliance with
the Marathas, nor were the theological elements even in the camp were impressed. Thus, Qazi Shaikul
Islam, the upright and highly respected sadr of the imperial army, refused in 1688 to give a fatwa that
war against a Muslim king, that is the “heretical” Deccani rulers, was ‘lawful’. He resigned his post, and
decided to go to Mecca for a visit. Aurangzeb had to appoint a new chief qazi.
After the conquest of Bijapur and Golconda, Aurangzeb was faced with the task of winning over the
powerful rajas, nayaks and deshmukhs of Telangana and the Karnataka. This led to a modification of his
policy of destroying even old standing temples as a reprisal for political opposition. Thus, the
contemporary observer, Bhimsen, noted “The temples in Bijapur and Hyderabadi Karnataka are beyond
numbering, and each temple is like the fort of Parenda and Sholapur. In the whole world nowhere else
are there so many temples”. Many of the famous temples are named and described in detail by
Bhimsen. He goes on to say, “From the neighbourhood of Adoni and Kanchi and the kingdom of Jinji and
the ocean, there is not a village in which there is no temple, large or small”. However, except in a few
cases, little attempt was made by Aurangzeb to destroy them for fear of rousing further opposition.
From the beginning of his accession, Aurangzeb used to send large sums of money to Mecca to be
distributed among the shaikhs and the poor. However, he gradually became disillusioned at the corrupt
and grasping ways of the theologians, and wrote to the Sharif of Mecca, warning him of appropriating
for himself the money sent for the needy at Mecca. He concluded sadly, “Why should it (the money) not
be distributed among the poor of this country because the manifestation of God is reflected in every
country”?
Aurangzeb was unrelenting in his opposition in giving remissions in jizyah. However, in case of crop-failure, such remissions were regularly given, often at the instance of the jagirdars. Finally, in 1704,
Aurangzeb suspended jizyah “for the duration of the war in the south,” Since an end to war with the
Marathas was nowhere in sight, it was tantamount to its abolition
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in the south. Jizyah was formally abolished in 1712 at the instance of Asad Khan and Zulfiqar Khan, two
of the leading nobles of Aurangzeb.
Some modern writers are of the opinion that Aurangzeb’s measures were designed to convert India
from a dar-ul-harb or a land inhabited by infidels to dar-ul-lslam, or a land inhabited by Muslims. This is
not correct. According to sharia, a state in which the laws of Islam prevailed and where the ruler was a
Muslim was dar-ul-lslam. In such a state, the Hindus who submitted to the Muslim ruler, and agreed to
pay jizyah were zimmis or protected people according to the sharia. Hence, the state in India had been
considered a dar-ul-lslam since the advent of the Turks. Even when Mahadji Sindhia, the Maratha
general, occupied Delhi in 1772, and the Mughal emperor became a puppet in his hands, the
theologians decreed that the state remained a dar-ul-lslam since the laws of Islam were allowed to
prevail and the throne was occupied by a Muslim. Although Aurangzeb considered it legitimate to
encourage conversion to Islam, evidence of systematic or large-scale attempts at forced conversion is
lacking.
Nor were Hindu nobles discriminated against. Athar Ali’s study has shown that the number of Hindus in
the nobility during the second half of Aurangzeb’s reign almost doubled with the Hindus, including
Marathas, forming about one-third of the nobility.
The position of the Hindus during the period would be clear from the table below:
Shan Janan Aurangzeb
1628-58 1658-78 1679-1701
Total Hindus % Total Hindus % Total Hindus %
5000 and above 49 12 24.5 51 10 19.6 79 26 32.9
3000 and 4500 88 22 25.0 90 18 20.0 133 36 24.1 
1000 and 2700 300 64 21.3 345 77 22.3 363 120 33.1
Total 437 98 22.4 486 105 21.6 575 182 31.6
(Athar Ali : The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb)
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Aurangzeb inducted large numbers of Marathas into the service during the latter half of his reign, Of the
96 Marathas who held ranks of 1000 zat and above between 1679 and 1707,16 held ranks of 5000 and
above, 18 held ranks between 3000 and 4000, and 62 from 1000 to 2700, thus for surpassing the
Rajputs. However, they were not given important commands or posts, or treated as integral parts of the
imperial service. Nor was any attempt made to establish personal or friendly social relations with them,
on the model of the Rajputs. The Maratha mansabdars generally hald three-monthly jagirs and, as per
the practice since the days of Shah Jahan, even from this one-fourth was deducted.
Territorial Consolidation and Expansion – North India
During the war of succession, many local zamindars and rajas had withheld revenue, or started
plundering the neighbouring areas including Mughal territories and royal highways. After seating himself
on the throne formally, Aurangzeb embarked upon an era of strong rule. In some cases, such as the
north-east and the Deccan, the imperial frontier was advanced. However, his attempt immediately after
his succession was to re-assert imperial authority and prestige. This included recovery of areas which
had been lost during the war of succession and to which the Mughals felt they had a legal claim. To
begin with, Aurangzeb was more concerned with consolidation than conquest and annexation. Thus, he
sent an army to Bikaner to enforce obedience to the Mughal emperor, but made no effort to annex it.
But in another case, such as Palamau in Bihar, the ruler who was accused of disloyalty was dispossessed
and the bulk of his state annexed. The rebel Bundela chief, Champat Rai, who had been an ally of
Aurangzeb at first but had taken to a life of plunder, was relentlessly hunted down. But Bundela lands
were not annexed.
North-East and East India
The rise of the Ahom power in the Assam valley and its conflict with the rulers of Kamata (Kamrup) on
the one hand and with the Afghan rulers of Bengal on the other had been a continuous feature during
the Sultanat period. The kingdom of Kamata declined by the end of the fifteenth century and was
replaced by
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the kingdom of Kuch (Cooch Bihar) which dominated north Bengal and western Assam. Like the earlier
rulers, the Kuch rulers also clashed with the Ahoms. Internal disputes led to the division of the Kuch
kingdom in the early seventeenth century and to the entry of the Mughals in Assam at the instance of
the Kuch ruler. The Mughals defeated the split-away kingdom and in 1612 occupied the western Assam
valley up to the Bar Nadi, or Kuch-Hajo with the help of Kuch armies. The Kuch ruler became a Mughal
vassal. Thus, the Mughals came into contact with the Ahoms who ruled eastern Assam across the Bar
Nadi. After a long war with the Ahoms who had harboured a prince of the deposed dynasty, a treaty was
made with them in 1638 which fixed the Bar Nadi as the boundary between them and the Mughals.
Thus, Guwahati came under Mughal control.
There was a long-drawn out war between the Mughals and the Ahoms during the reign of Aurangzeb.
The war began with the attempt of the Ahom rulers to expel the Mughals from Guwahati and the
neighbouring area and thus complete their control over the Brahmaputra valley. Mir Jumla, who had
been appointed the governor of Bengal by Aurangzeb, wanted to make his mark by bringing Cooch Bihar
and entire Assam under Mughal rule. He first assaulted Cooch Bihar which had repudiated Mughal
suzerainty, and annexed the entire kingdom to the Mughal empire. He next invaded the Ahom kingdom.
Mir Jumla occupied the Ahom capital, Garhgaon, and held it for six months despite rains, and a close
siege by the Ahoms. After the rains, he advanced up to the limit of the Ahom kingdom, finally forcing the
Ahom king to make a humiliating treaty (1663). The raja had to send his daughter to the Mughal haram,
pay a large war indemnity and an annual tribute of 20 elephants. The Mughal boundary was extended
from the Bar Nadi to the Bharali river in the north of the Brahmaputra.
Mir Jumla died soon after his brilliant victory. However, the advantages of a forward move in Assam
were doubtful since the area was not rich and was surrounded by warlike tribes, such as the Nagas living
in the mountains. It was found that the back of Ahom power had not been broken, and that i t was
beyond Mughal power to enforce the treaty. In 1667, the Ahoms renewed the contest. They not only
recovered the areas ceded to the Mughals in 1663 but also occupied Guwahati. Earlier, the Mughals
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had also been expelled from Cooch Bihar. Thus, all the gains of Mir Jumla were rapidly lost. A long,
desultory warfare with the Ahoms lasting a decade and a half followed. For a long period the command
of the Mughal forces was with Raja Ram Singh, who had succeeded Mirza Raja Jai Singh to the gaddi of
Amber. Ram Singh hardly had the resources for defeating the Ahom ruler. The Ahoms had in the past
displayed great powers of endurance, enterprise in war and ability of making rapid marches. The Ahom
army consisted almost entirely of infantry, stiffened with elephants. Bearing in mind the jungly terrain,
criss—crossed by narrow streams, and full of quagmires, cavalry was not of much use in the area. The
Ahoms also had a strong navy mounted with guns. The Ahoms were largely armed with iron spears, but
also had swivel guns and match-locks. They were skillful in building wooden stockades behind which the
infantry could offer strong points of resistance. When Mir Jumla had campaigned, he had an army of
12,000 horse, 30,000 foot, and a strong flotila of war-vessels. Raja Ram Singh had only 8000 troopers
which included his army of 4000 troopers, 500 ahadis who were match-lockmen, and 500 artillery men,
and 15,000 auxiliary archers from Kuch-Bihar. As against this, the Ahoms could, in emergencies, mobilise
about 100,000 men, all males in the kingdom being liable for military service. Ram Singh also did not
have a strong force of war vessels. The Ahoms, unable to face Mughal artillery, quickly learnt to avoid
pitched battles, and use the guerilla mode of warfare.
In this situation, the Mughals were hardly in a position to maintain themselves in the Assam valley. Their
only hope was a division in the ranks of the Ahoms. Although the Ahom kingdom was in a state of
internal disarray between 1670 and 1681 – “in the short space of eleven years there were no less than
seven kings not one of whom died a natural death”, the Mughals were unable to take advantage of it.
Guwahati was lost and gained a number of times. In 1674, Ram Singh returned home. Finally, in 1681,
the Ahoms united under a new ruler, and forced the Mughals to give up Kuch Hajo, and accept the river
Manas as the boundary. By that time, Aurangzeb was fully involved in wars in the Deccan, and was not
inclined to consider the holding on of a remote anc difficult frontier area with little financial return as a
matter of priority.
The Mughals had greater interest and success in East Bengal. Following Mir Jumla’s death in 1663,
Shaista Khan, who had
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suffered a severe set back at the hands of Shivaji, was appointed Governor of Bengal. Shaista Khan
proved to be a good administrator and an able general. He modified Mir Jumla’s forward policy. First, he
patched up an agreement with the ruler of Cooch Bihar. The Raja re-affirmed his submission to the
Mughal emperor, and agreed to pay an indemnity of five and a half lakhs of rupees. Next, he gave his
attention to the problem of south Bengal, where the Magh (Arakanese) pirates had been terrorising the
area up to Dacca from their headquarters at Chatgaon. Chatgaon (Chittagong) had been a bone of
contention between the Muslim rulers of Bengal, and the rulers of Arakan for a long time. With the
decline of the power of the rulers of Bengal, Chittagong and its neighbouring areas had passed under
the Arakanese. With the help of the Portuguese or Firangi pirates, they had made slave raids and
devastated the land up to Dacca and trade and industry had suffered a serious setback. Shaista Khan
built up a navy to meet the Arakanese pirates and captured the island of Sondip as a base of operations
against Chittagong. Next, he won the Firingis to his side by inducements of money and favours. The
Arakan navy near Chittagong was routed and many of the ships captured. Chittagong was assaulted by
land and sea and captured early in 1666. The destruction of the Arakanese navy opened the seas to free
commerce. This was no minor factor in the rapid growth of Bengal’s foreign trade during the period and
the expansion of cultivation in east Bengal.
In Orissa, the rebellion of the Pathans was put down and Balasore reopened to commerce.
Popular Revolts : Jats, Satnamis, Afghans and Sikhs
Peasant resistance to the process of centralization of authority, often at the expense of clan/tribal
leaders or institutions such as the village community was a continuous feature under Mughal rule, and
was often put down by ruthless severity. Simultaneously, efforts were made to draw in the tribal/clan
leaders, or the privileged sections in the village in the task of administration, or land revenue
assessment and collection by means of gifts, concessions, etc. Thus, repression and fitful efforts at
conciliation had gone on all the time. The new feature we find in Aurangzeb’s time is greater spirit of
defiance and resistance, and better organization, either by local landed elements or charismatic leaders.
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There has been a tendency to put all these movements under a common heading, such as Hindu
reaction to the narrow, bigoted policies of Aurangzeb, or the result of increased economic exploitation.
It is not denied that religion, or economic exploitation played a role in many of these popular uprisings.
But that does not help us in understanding the specific features of each of them. It should also be
remembered that in medieval times, all anti-establishment movements had to draw upon religion, or
use religious slogans as a binding force. The Jat and the Sikh movements led to the setting up of
separate regional states, the Jats succeeding in this earlier than the Sikhs. The Afghans also tried to
carve out a separate tribal state of their own, but their movement was crushed till an Afghan state arose
under different circumstances.
Thus, there was a regional dimension in many of these uprisings, as also in the case of the Marathas
which we shall discuss separately.
Jats and Satnamis
The Jats living on both sides of the river Jamuna had a strong sense of clan brotherhood and
egalitarianism reflected in their clan brotherhoods which culminated in a chhaap. The chhaap was
somewhat like a tribal jirga but was more hierarchical. The Jats were mostly peasant cultivators, with
only a few zamindars in the doab and the trans-Jamuna plains. It is possible that the centralized Mughal
state posed a danger to the life style of this peasant brotherhood which was always willing to take
recourse to arms against perceived injustice. Thus, there are many instances of the Jats of this area
having come into clash with the Mughal state under Jahangir and Shah Jahan. But a prolonged and widespread revolt took place for the first time under Aurangzeb. Early in 1667, the Jais of the Mathura region
rose in rebellion under the leadership of Gokla, a small zamindar. The revolt spread, many peasants in
neighbouring villages joining the rebels whose numbers swelled to 20,000. Abdun Nabi, the faujdar of
Mathura, was killed in a battle with the rebels. He is called a religious and benevolent man but must
have been extortionate because the property escheated to the state after his death amounted to 93,000
gold muhars and 13 lakhs of rupees. In view of the growing plundering activities of the Jats, towards the
end of the year, Aurangzeb moved from Delhi to Agra. In a hard fought battle, Gokla was defeated and
captured. He was
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killed brutally, his son converted to Islam, and the daughter married to one of the Emperor’s slave of
high rank.
The Jat uprising had all the characteristics of a peasant uprising. Religion seems to have played hardly a
role in the struggle, although Abdun Nabi had erected a lofty mosque at Mathura. However, the temple
of Bir Singh Deo Bundela at Mathura was destroyed after the defeat of the Jats.
In 1672, there was another armed conflict between the peasants and the Mughal state at Narnaul, not
far from Mathura. This time the conflict was with a religious body called Satnamis. The Satnamis were a
sect of bairagis who had their own scriptures. Like Kabir, they believed in monotheism, and condemned
rituals and superstition. They had an attitude of sympathy with the poor, and hostility towards authority
and wealth. Hence, their appeal lay mainly with the lower classes. They were mostly peasants, artisans
and low caste people and have been called “goldsmiths, carpenters, sweepers, tanners and other
ignoble beings” by a contemporary writer. They did not observe distinctions of caste and rank or
between Hindus and Muslims, and followed a strict code of conduct. Starting from a clash with a local
official, it soon assumed the character of an open rebellion.
The Satnamis plundered many villages, and after defeating the local faujdar, seized the towns of Narnaul
and Bairat. We are told that “the noise of their tumult reached Delhi where the grain supply became
scanty and the citizens were greatly alarmed and distracted.” Hence, Aurangzeb sent a large force of
10,000 including artillery under Radandaz Khan and many high officials including Raja Bishan Singh. The
rebels fought well but could not prevail against such a large, well organized force.
Meanwhile, discontent among the Jats had continued to simmer, assuming the classic character of
withholding of revenue. In retaliation, in 1681, Multafat Khan, the faujdar of the environs of Agra,
attacked the Jat village of Sinsani. In course of time, Rajaram, the zamindar of Sinsani organized the Jats
of the region and imparted them military training. This was combined with the plundering of the
important royal highway linking Agra to Burhanpur and Ajmer. The character of the struggle now
changed subtly, primacy being accorded to ousting non-Jat zamindars of the region, and moving towards
a Jat dominated state. This led to a conflict between the Jats and the Rajputs over zamindari rights, most
of the primary zamindars, that is the cultivating peasants
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who owned the land being Jats, and the intermediary zamindars, that is those who collected the landrevenue being Rajputs. Taking advantage of this situation, Aurangzeb approached Raja Bishan Singh, the
Kachhwaha ruler to crush the uprising. Bishan Singh was appointed faujdar of Mathura and the entire
area was granted to him in Zamindari. The Jats put up stiff resistance, but by 1691, Rajaram and his
successor, Churaman, were compelled to submit. However, unrest among the Jat peasants continued
and their plundering activities made the Delhi-Agra road unsafe for travellers. Later on, in the
eighteenth century, taking advantage of Mughal civil wars and weakness in the central government,
Churaman was able to carve out a separate Jat principality in the area and to oust the Rajput zamindars.
Thus, what apparently started as a peasant uprising, was diverted from its character, and culminated in
a state in which Jat chiefs formed the ruling class.
The Afghans
Aurangzeb came into conflict with the Afghans also. Conflict with the hardy Afghan tribesmen who lived
in the mountain region between the Punjab and Kabul was not new. Akbar had to fight against the
Afghans and, in the process, lost the life of his close friend and confidant, Raja Birbal. Conflict with the
Afghan tribesmen had taken place during the reign of Shah Jahan also. These conflicts were partly
economic and partly political and religious. With little means of livelihood in the rugged mountains, the
Afghans had no option but to prey on the caravans or to enrol in the Mughal armies. There had been a
continuous incursion of Afghans into India, and many of them had settled down on the land as
cultivators or zamindars, a number of them becoming nobles in various states. But the Pathans of the
mountain passes looked down upon them. The fierce love of freedom of the Pathans made service in
the Mughal armies difficult. The Mughals generally kept them contented by paying them subsidies. But
growth of population or the rise of an ambitious leader could lead to a breach of this tacit agreement.
During the reign of Aurangzeb, we see a new stirring among the Pathans. In 1667, Bhagu, the leader of
the Yusufazai tribe, proclaimed as king a person named Muhammad Shah who
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claimed descent from an ancient royal lineage, and proclaimed himself his wazir. It would appear that
among the Afghans, as among the Jats, the ambition of setting up a separate state of their own had
begun to stir. A religious revivalist movement called the Raushanai, which emphasised a strict ethical life
and devotion to a chosen pir, had provided an intellectual and moral background to the movement.
Gradually, Bhagu’s movement spread till his followers started ravaging and plundering the Hazara,
Attack and Peshawar districts and brought the traffic in the Khyber to a standstill. To clear the Khyber
pass and crush the uprising, Aurangzeb deputed the Chief Bakshi, Amir Khan. A Rajput contingent was
posted with him. After a series of hard-fought battles, the Afghan resistance was broken. But to watch
over them, in 1671 Maharaja Jaswant Singh, the ruler of Marwar, was appointed as thanedar of Jamrud.
There was a second Afghan uprising in 1672. The leader of the opposition this time was the Afridi leader,
Akmal Khan, who proclaimed himself king and read khutba and struck sikka in his name. He declared
war against the Mughals and summoned all the Afghans to join him. According to a contemporary
writer, with a following “more numerous than ants and locusts”, they closed the Khyber pass. Moving
forward to clear the pass, Amir Khan advanced too far and suffered a disastrous defeat in the narrow
defile. The Khan managed to escape with his life, but 10,000 men perished, and cash and goods worth
two crores were looted by the Afghans. This defeat brought other  tribesmen into the fray, including
Khushhal Khan Khattak, a sworn enemy of Aurangzeb from whose hands he had suffered imprisonment
for some time.
In 1674, another Mughal noble Shujaat Khan, suffered a disastrous rout in the Khyber. But he was
rescued by a heroic band of Rathors sent by Jaswant Singh. At last, in the middle of 1674, Aurangzeb
himself went to Peshawar and remained in the neighbourhood till the end of 1675. By force and
diplomacy, the Afghan united front was broken, and peace was slowly restored. A major role in this was
played by Amir Khan, the new Mughal governor of Kabul who was adept in tribal politics.
The Afghan uprising shows that sentiments of resistance to the Mughal rule and the urge for regional
freedom were not confined to sections of Hindus, such as Jats, Marathas, etc. Also, the Afghan
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uprising helped to relax Mughal pressure on Shivaji during a crucial period. It also made difficult, if not
impossible, a forward policy by the Mughals in the Deccan till 1676 by which time S hivaji had crowned
himself and entered into an alliance with Bijapur and Golconda.
Sikhs
We have already discussed the growth of a democratic, monotheistic movement in the Punjab under
Guru Nanak. Akbar had good relations with the gurus who succeeded Nanak, but Guru Arjun came into
conflict with Jahangir on a charge of blessing the rebel prince, Khusrau. However, this did not lead to a
persecution of the Sikhs as such. In fact, with the exception of a brief detention of Guru Hargovind,
relations of the Sikh Gurus with Jahangir were cordial. There was a conflict between Guru Hargovind and
the imperial forces on a number of occasions during the early years of Shah Jahan’s reign. The cause of
the conflict, as R.P. Tripathi says was “almost insignificant”. Whil e the emperor was hunting near
Amritsar, one of his favourite hawks flew into the Guru’s camp and his refusal to give it up led to a series
of military clashes (1628). The Sikhs acquitted themselves well, their forces being led by a Pathan,
Painda Khan. At the intervention of a number of well-wishers at the court, such as Wazir Khan, the
matter was hushed up.
A second conflict took place when the Guru’s attempt to found a new city on the river Beas in the
Jullandhar doab was objected to, and sought to be prevented. The Guru, again, had an upper hand.
A third conflict took place when a notorious robber, Bidhi Chand, stole two horses from the imperial
stables and presented them to the Guru. We are told that these horses “of surpassing beauty and
swiftness” were being brought to the Guru when the royal officials had seized them.
In the conflict which followed, and in which Painda Khan joined with the imperialists, the Sikh forces
again displayed great feats of valour, but the Guru was forced to leave Kartarpur, and return for some
time to the Kashmir hills.
If we probe deeper into the causes of these conflicts, we are led to the conclusion that such a conflict
was inherent in the rise of the Sikh movement. The establishment in the Punjab of a small
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but expanding community of Sikhs with a definite ethico-religious outlook, deeply devoted to the Guru
and determined to fight against injustice of all types had, under special circumstances, the potential of
coming into conflict with established authority. The appointment of masands in different regions to
collect contributions from the faithful, and the transformation in the character of the Sikh gurudom
following its acquiring a hereditary character after the nomination of Arjun, the youngest son of Guru
Ramdas, as Guru in 1581, and the subsequent decision of his son and successor, Guru Hargovind, to
wear two swords, signifying combination of spiritual and temporal power in the Guru were additional
factors. Guru Hargovind also started recruiting a military following. We are told that many elements,
dissatisfied with the Mughals for one reason or another, including a Pathan such as Painda Khan, joined
the Guru. With the growing power and prestige of the Guru, many Jat cultivators from the Jullandhar
and Miyana doab also came under the influence of the Guru. Thus, the Guru began to emerge as a
rallying point for discontented elements, and those who stood for justice.
It seems that the Mughal emperors were conscious of the growing importance of the Sikh Gurus, and
tried to engage them in order to influence and, if possible, to control them.
Immediately after his accession, Aurangzeb had a special reason to look into the affairs of the Sikhs.
There were complaints against Guru Har Kishan, the successor of Guru Hargovind, that he had met Dara
Shikoh, blessed him, and assisted him in opposing Aurangzeb, and that he was performing miracles to
support a religion in opposition to Islam. The charge was the same as at the time of Jahangir but
Aurangzeb adopted a softer approach. He summoned Guru Har Rai to explain his conduct. The Guru sent
his son Ram Rai. The Guru’s conduct was not considered serious enough to merit punishment, but as a
precautionary measure, Ram Rai was detained at Delhi, probably as a security for his father’s good
behaviour. According to A.C. Bannerji, “It is also possible that the emperor wanted to make the future
Guru of the Sikhs amenable to Mughal influence through close contact with the imperial court.”
However, Ram Rai’s conduct at the court displeased Guru Har Rai, and he nominated
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instead his younger son, Ram Kishan, who was then six years old as Guru. Aurangzeb continued to
patronise Ram Rai, giving him a grant of land at Dehra Dun to set himself up there. Aurangzeb does not
seem to have interfered in the succession of the Sikh Gurus hereafter. Nor was there any conflict with
the Sikhs at the time. Thus, the new Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who succeeded in 1664 journeyed to Bihar,
and joined Raja Ram Singh, son of Raja Jai Singh, in his Assam campaign.
Guru Tegh Bahadur returned to the Punjab in 1671. There is a lot of controversy regarding the events
which led to Guru Tegh Bahadur’s arrest and execution at Delhi in November 1675. There are no
contemporary Persian accounts of the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, but from the account of
Mustaid Khan in Maasir-i-Alamgiri, based on official records, it is clear that from April 1674 to the end of
March 1676, Aurangzeb was out of Delhi, supervising the operations against the Afghans who had risen
in rebellion. In the Persian sources written after a hundred years later, it has been made out that in
association with one Hafiz Adam, a devotee of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, the Guru had resorted to plunder
and rapine, laying waste the whole province of Punjab. The Sikh sakhis although written during the 18th
century, indirectly support the account in the Persian sources, saying that “the Guru was in violent
opposition to the Muslim rulers of the country.” However, they ascribe this conflict to the narrow
religious policies of Aurangzeb. According to Sikh traditions, the Mughal governor of Kashmir, Sher
Afghan, had been trying to force the Hindus of Kashmir to convert, and that the final sacrifice of Guru
Tegh Bahadur was a protest against this persecution. Historical legends sometimes provide a meaningful
insight, but they are not always reliable regarding details and dates. The Mughal governor of Kashmir
since 1671 had been Iftekhar Khan, his predecessor being Saif Khan who was a humane and broad
minded person. He had appointed a Hindu to advise him on administrative matters. He is also famous as
a builder of bridges. Iftekhar Khan was anti-Shia, but none of the histories of Kashmir, including the
history of Kashmir written by Narayan Kaul in 1710 mention any persecution of Hindus.
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It is clear that this was a classic case of differing perceptions: the Mughal officialdom saw the Guru only
as a disturber of peace and as an outlaw to whom it was legitimate to give the option of Islam or death.
The Sikhs saw the Guru as a religious leader who was fighting against oppression and who gave up his
life in defence of cherished religious beliefs.
Whether Aurangzeb was at Delhi or elsewhere, the Guru’s execution could not have taken without his
consent and approval. As in a number of other cases, Aurangzeb’s approach in the matter was in a
narrow law and order framework. The execution of the Guru was uncalled for. His martyrdom, paved
the way for the final transformation of Sikhism into an armed opposition movement. A major role in this
was played by Guru Govind Singh. Retreating into the Punjab hills, the Guru soon collected a small army
around him which was used by the Raja of Nahan for some time. In 1699, the Guru founded the military
brotherhood or khalsa at Anandpur. The initiation into the khalsa through a double edged sword, the
willingness to give their lives for the sake of the Guru, the wearing of keshas and arms, the removal of all
those masands whose integrity or loyalty was questionable, the vesting of the Guruship either in the
khalsa panth or the Adi Granth, the rejection of some old customs and the adoption of some new ones1
“sharpened the social identity of the Khalsa, who already belonged to a distinct socio-religious
fraternity.” (J.S. Grewal).
We need not follow in detail the military conflicts which followed. The Hill Rajas who had invited the
Guru to help in their internecine wars found that the Guru had become too powerful. The combined
forces of a number of hill rajas attacked the Guru at Anandpur, but were forced to retreat. The Hill rajas
now
1These included the five Ks – kesha, kirpan, kara, kangha and kachha, adoption of the surname Singh,
giving up tobacco etc.
In the context of Banda’s uprising in 1708-9, Khafi Khan says that Aurangzeb had ordered the masands
who were collecting tithes for the Guru, expelled from the cities, and their temples pulled down. No
date is given to this order, nor is it mentioned in any other history of the period. This order, if issued,
must have remained inoperative because neither the Sikh holy of holies, the Harmandir, or any of the
other major gurudwaras of the period were effected.
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pressed the Mughal government to intervene against the Guru on their behalf. Another reason for this
was that as the number of soldiers with the Guru at Anandpur had increased, it had become necessary
for him to raid the neighbouring villages for food and forage.
Aurangzeb was concerned with the growing power of the Guru and had asked the Mughal faujdar earlier
“to admonish the Guru”. He now wrote to the governor of Lahore and the faujdar of Sirhind, Wazir
Khan, to aid the hill rajas in their conflict with Guru Govind Singh. The Mughal forces assaulted
Anandpur but the Sikhs fought bravely and beat off all assaults. The Mughals and their allies now
invested the fort closely. When starvation began inside the fort, the Guru was forced to open the gate,
apparently on a promise of safe conduct by Wazir Khan. But when the forces of the Guru were crossing a
swollen stream, Wazir Khan’s forces suddenly attacked. Two of the Guru’s sons were captured, and on
their refusal to embrace Islam, were beheaded at Sirhind. The Guru lost two of his remaining sons in
another battle. After this, the Guru retired to Talwandi and was generally not disturbed.
It is doubtful whether the dastardly action of Wazir Khan against the sons of the Guru was carried out at
the instance of Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb, it seems, was not keen to destroy the Guru and wrote to the
governor of Lahore “to conciliate the Guru”. When the Guru wrote to Aurangzeb in the Deccan,
apprising him of the events, Aurangzeb invited him to meet him. Towards the end of 1706, the Guru set
out for the Deccan and was on the way when Aurangzeb died. According to some, he had hoped to
persuade Aurangzeb to restore Anandpur to him.
Although Guru Govind Singh was not able to withstand Mughal might, he created a tradition and also
forged a weapon for the establishment of a Sikh state later on. It showed how an egalitarian religious
movement could, under certain circumstances, turn into a political and militaristic movement, and
subtly move towards regional independence.
Relations with the Rajputs, — breach with Marwar and Mewar
Aurangzeb’s relations with the Rajputs passed through a number of phases which need to be analyzed in
order to understand the factors which led to the breach with Marwar and Mewar in 1679.
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In the early phase, from 1658 to Jai Singh’s death in 1667, Aurangzeb’s relations with the Rajput rajas
were cordial. In fact, during the period the Rajputs were treated as partners in the kingdom, and
accorded greater honours than in the time of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. In anticipation of a war of
succession, both Dara and Aurangzeb had been courting the nobles, including the Rajput nobles. During
the retreat from Balkh, Jai Singh had commanded the rear contingents of Aurangzeb’s army, and had
also commanded his west wing during the Qandahar campaign. Some bitter remarks of Dara when Jai
Singh had served him at Qandahar had alienated Jai Singh from him. That is why he fought against Shuja
only till Shah Jahan sat on the throne and could issue orders. He then joined Aurangzeb and played a
leading role in hounding Dara. He was so close to Aurangzeb that a contemporary historian, Ishwardas,
calls him “”the key to the brain” of Aurangzeb. Jai Singh was the major advisor of Aurangzeb regarding
Rajput affairs, and it was at his instance that Jaswant Singh who had defected a second time after
Samugarh, and opened negotiations which the fugitive Dara, was pardoned, and his mansab restored,
and he was posted as governor of Gujarat even without appearing at the court for formal leave as was
the custom. Later, Jai Singh was appointed viceroy of the Deccan, a charge normally given to princes of
blood, or nobles of the highest rank and confidence. He was one of the few nobles who developed an
independent Maratha policy, and tried to persuade Aurangzeb to accept it.
Immediately after his accession, Aurangzeb also had cordial relations with Rana Raj Singh, the ruler of
Mewar. On the eve of the war of succession, Aurangzeb entered into correspondence with the Rana,
and won him over by promising to restore the parganas sequestered by Shah Jahan in 1654, and revive
his overlordship over Dungapur, Banswara, etc. The Maharana was also assured of religious toleration
and of a status higher than that accorded to Rana Sangram Singh. After Aurangzeb ascended the throne,
the Rana’s mansab was raised to 6000/6000 (1000 du-aspa sih-aspa), the sequestered parganas restored
and his overlordship over Dungarpur, Banswara, Devaliya etc. recognized.
Likewise, good relations were maintained with the other important states of Bikaner, Bundi and Kota.
Although Raja Karan of Bikaner had abandoned Aurangzeb in the Deccan after hearing of the illness of
Shah Jahan and had gone home, he was pardoned.
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Rao Chhatrasal of Bundi, and Mukund Singh of Kota had laid down their lives fighting against Aurangzeb,
but there was no attempt to interfere in the succession there, or to show displeasure in any way.
Thus, despite Aurangzeb’s orthodox religious views, during the early years of his reign, the Rajputs were
restored to the position of being partners in the kingdom as during the latter part of Akbar’s reign.
However, relations between Aurangzeb and the Rajputs seem graduallay to have become cool. In 1660,
Rana Raj Singh was asked to explain why he had invaded Kishangarh and married the young Raja’s sister,
Charumati, “without Imperial permission”. Raj Singh returned a spirited reply that permission was not
asked for since Rajputs had always married Rajputs and this had not been forbidden. Moreover, his
ancestors had married among the Pawars of Ajmer. He also pointed out that he had not engaged in any
hostilities with the Imperial forces. The explanation of the Rana was accepted, but Aurangzeb showed
his displeasure by restoring Ghayaspur (Devaliya) and Banswara to Hari Singh, who had been ousted by
the Rana and had been at the Imperial court since 1659. Subsequently, the younger sister of Charumati
was married to Prince Muazzam.
The activities of Shivaji were a source of worry to Aurangzeb, and both Jaswant Singh and Jai Singh were
successively employed against him. Jaswant Singh’s negligent conduct during and after Shivaji surprise
attack on Shaista Khan’s camp in 1662, and Shivaji’s escape from Agra in 1666 from the custody of Kr.
Ram Singh, the son of Mirza Rajah Jai Singh, gave an opportunity to hostile tongues to wag. It is difficult
to say whether Aurangzeb credited the charge against the two leading Rajput rajas of secretly
sympathising with Shivaji. To all intents and purposes, both Jai Singh and Jaswant Singh continued to
receive high favours from Aurangzeb, and enjoy his confidence as long as they lived. This did not at all
imply that he accepted their suggestions regarding policy. Thus, there were considerable differences in
the policy towards Shivaji and the Deccan advocated by Jai Singh, and what was considered desirable
and appropriate by Aurangzeb. It was at the instance of Jai Singh that Shivaji agreed to visit Aurangzeb
at Agra. Aurangzeb considered Shivaji’s escape as a great blow to his prestige, and showed his
displeasure by forefeiting for some time Kr. Ram Singh’s mansab for his carelessness in allowing Shivaji
to escape. He also replaced Jai Singh as viceroy of the
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Deccan and recalled him, although Jai Singh tried hard to prevent it. Dispirited and broken-hearted, Jai
Singh died soon after (1667).
Between 1666 and 1679, Aurangzeb had to face a series of domestic challenges, and he undertook a
number of measures which had far reaching implications. Thus, there were the Jat and the Satnami
uprisings, continued conflict with the Afghans, the Assamese, and the Marathas, and a growing financial
crisis reflected in a gap between income and expenditure. One response of Aurangzeb was to reemphasize Islam as a major bond of unity by instituting a series of orthodox measures, and coming
closer to the ulama. Another was to despatch Rajput forces to deal with the trouble spots, notably to
the two frontiers, the north-east and the north-west. According to the Maasir-i-Alamgiri, “the Emperor
decided that one of the great and eminent nobles of the Court should be deputed to Bengal with an
army from his presence to put down the enemy and that he should join this to some of the troops
serving in Bengal…” Raja Ram Singh who had been restored to the mansab of 5000/5000 following the
death of Jai Singh was given this assignment. However, unlike Mir Jumla earlier, he was not given the
charge of the subah of Bengal so that its resources could be used for the campaign.
In the north-west, it was in the middle of 1671 that Jaswant Singh was summoned to the court from
Gujarat where he was the governor, and appointed thanedar of Jamrud. Although under the Mughals,
the importance of a post depended upon the rank of the holder, and Jaswant Singh outranked both M.
Amin Khan, the subedar of Kabul, and Fidai Khan, the governor of Lahore, and held an independent
charge, there seems to have been some surprise at his appointment to such a low post because the
historian Ishwardas who was in the region, serving Qazi Shaikh-ul-Islam, tried to cover it up by sayaing
that Jaswant Singh had been appointed to the “sardari of Kabul”.
The surprising part was not the initial appointment of Ram Singh and Jaswant Singh to these two trouble
spots, but that they were virtually made to languish there for long periods. It does not, of course, follow
that the presence of these premier Rajput rajas at the court would have influenced Aurangzeb’s policies.
But their virtual banishment to distant places does support the suggestion of the contemporary
observer, Mamuri, that before his departure for the Deccan, i.e. during this period, Aurangzeb had been
exercising restraints in promoting the Rajputs.
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Even more surprising was the fact that when Aurangzeb revived the forward policy in the Deccan after
1676, the Rajputs were hardly involved in the campaigning there. All this suggests a growing reservation
on the part of Aurangzeb towards the Rajputs which forms the background to the breach with Marwar
and Mewar, following the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh at Jamrud in 1678 after a brief illness of
about a month.
Breach with Marwar and Mewar
There has been a lot of controversy about the factors which led to the breach between Aurangzeb and
Marwar and Mewar, the two leading Rajput states. Sir Jadunath Sarkar considered it a consequence of
the growing rift between Aurangzeb and the Rajputs following Aurangzeb’s narrow religious policy. He
was of the opinion that Aurangzeb wanted to annex or weaken Marwar because “his plan of forcible
conversion of the Hindus required that Jaswant’s state should sink into a quiescent dependency or a
regular province of the empire”. Although Sir Jadunath’s conclusions were contested by a number of
historians, two contemporary sources which have recently come to light — the Persian Waqa-i-Ajmer1
and the Rajasthani Jodhpur Hukumat-ri-Bahi – have thrown a flood of fresh light on the subject. The
former is the secret report of a news-writer posted at Ranthambhor and Ajmer during the Rathor
rebellion and who then accompanied the Imperial army in the Rajput war. The Jodhpur Hukumat-ri-Bahi
deals with the Jodhpur state under Jaswant Singh, and gives in detail, the developments in the
Maharana’s camp from the time of his death till the-arrival of Durga Das and the Ranis at the court at
Delhi, and their subsequent flight to Jodhpur.
Maharaja Jaswant Singh who died at the age of 52 on 28 Nov. 1678 (Bahi) had no surviving heir, one of
his sons Prithvi Singh having died of small-pox at Agra in 1667, and another son Jagat Singh in 1676. The
death of Jaswant Singh raised the problem who was to succeed to the gaddi. There were no definite
principles regulating the succession in Marwar. According to Jahangir, the rule of primogeniture did not
obtain among the Rathors, the son
1Waqa-i-Ajmer, Asafia Lib., Hyderabad, with rotograph at Aligarh Muslim University, Hukumat-ri-Bahi
(with English summary) eds. Satish Chandra, Raghubir Singh, CD. Sharma, Meenakshi Prakashan, Delhi,
Meerut, 1976.
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whose mother was the special favourite of the father being nominated to the gaddi. Accordingly, in
1638, Maharaja Gaj Singh had set aside the elder son, Amar Singh, and nominated Jaswant Singh. The
nomination was accepted by Shah Jahan although Jaswant Singh was only a minor, whereas Amar Singh
had performed useful service against both Khan-i-Jahan Lodi and Juhar Singh in the Deccan, and had
risen to the rank of 3000/2500. Amar Singh was granted the appendage of Nagor which had been earlier
held by Rao Sur Singh of Bikaner. During the minority of Jaswant Singh, Marwar was administered by an
imperial nominee, Mahesh Das Rathor, no objection being raised to this from any side.
When news reached Aurangzeb at Agra on 10 December of the death of Jaswant Singh without leaving a
male heir, he issued orders that the state of Marwar including Jodhpur should be taken into khalisa, and
a detailed inventory prepared of the property left behind by Jaswant Singh. He also decided to march to
Ajmer personally. Meanwhile, the parganas of Sojat and Jaitaran were settled on the family of the
deceased Maharaja for their support, on the request of the sardars accompanying the Ranis to Delhi
(Bahi).
There is no reason to suppose that the taking of Jodhpur into khalisa signified its “annexation” to the
Empire. Apart from the fact that the state already formed a part of the Mughal Empire, though it
enjoyed autonomy in internal matters, there were many precedents of a state being occupied pending
the settlement of a disputed succession. Thus, in 1669 when Rai Singh had usurped the gaddi of
Nawanagar from his nephew, Satarsal (Chhatrasal), the state was occupied, the name of the capital
being changed to Islamnagar and officials appointed to administer the state. After some time the state
was restored to Tamachi, the son of Rai Singh, on the condition of “loyalty and strictly enforcing the
regulations regarding religious practices”. Another parallel case was that of Jaisalmer. In 1650, on the
death of Rawal Manohardas, who had died issueless, the queens and the Bhatis nominated Ram
Chandra, a descedant of Rawal Maldeo’s second son, Bhawani Singh. However, Shah Jahan conferred
the kingdom on Sabal Singh, a descendant of Rawal Maldeo’s eighth son, Khetsi. Jaswant Singh
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was deputed to lead an army to instal the Imperial nominee and, as a reward, was assigned the jagir of
Pokharan.
Apart from the disputed succession, another reason for the state being taken into khalisa, and of
Aurangzeb’s decision to march to Ajmer, was that on the death of the Maharaja, the various zamindars
and other elements who had been subject to him, withheld revenues. In many cases, such as
Ranthambhor, Sojat and Jodhpur disturbances were created. Some of the parganas, such as Phalodi and
Pokharan, which had been allotted in jagir to the Maharaja, were claimed by the neighbouring states,
and they prepared to use force to enforce their claims. The road to Ahmedabad had also become
unsafe.
The escheating of Jaswant Singh’s property was not unusual either, escheat being applied to all nobles
who died in debt to the state. Like most Mughal nobles, Jaswant Singh owed money to the state. As
governor of Gujarat till 1672, he owed “a large sum to the government”, and had been ordered to pay
back in instalments of two lakhs of rupees annually. We are told that Jaswant Singh was not a good
manager of money. He had given most of his villages in patta to his sardars, keeping only 32 villages for
his own expenses. As a result, he had not been able to clear his dues. (Waqai).
Following the death of Jaswant Singh, claims to the Marwar gaddi were put forward by Indra Singh, who
was the grandson of Jaswant Singh’s elder brother, Amar Singh, and by Anup Singh, who was the son of
a daughter of Amar Singh. Indra Singh argued that a great injustice had been done when the claims of
Amar Singh were passed over. He pleaded that this ancient wrong should now be put right. He also
offered to pay twenty lakhs of rupees as peshkash. Anup Singh offered to pay a peshkash of twenty-five
lakhs and also offered to realise twenty lakhs for the Imperial treasury from Jaswant Singh’s estate.
(Waqai).
Rani Hadi, the chief queen of Raja Jaswant Singh, who was then in residence at Jodhpur, stoutly
objected to vacating the town and the fort pleading that Jodhpur was the watan of Jaswant Singh and
that it was against custom that his descendants should be dispossed. She had no objection if, leaving the
pargana of Jodhpur, the rest of Marwar remained under khalisa. Two of the Ranis of Jaswant Singh were
in an advanced stage of pregnancy, Rani Hadi apparently wanted to delay a decision by Aurangzeb till
their confinement. The claim of Rani Hadi was backed by a strong body of Rathors,
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and by Rana Raj Singh of Mewar, who deputed an army of 5000 horses under one of his leading men,
Sanwal Das, to help Rani Hadi.
The claim of Rani Hadi and her support by a strong section among the Rathors and by the Rana of
Mewar, created a piquant situation. On behalf of Aurangzeb, it was pointed out by the Imperial faujdar
at Ajmer, Iftekhar Khan, that “mansab and raj could not be conferred on women and servants.” He
asked why no objection had been raised when Sojat and Jaitaran had been assigned to support Jaswant
Singh’s family? He hinted darkly that “Jaswant Singh had been faithless to the salt on two occasions.” He
also conveyed Aurangzeb’s willingness to convert the pattas of Jaswant’s followers into Imperial pattas
or jagirs to allay their apprehensions that they would be displaced if Jodhpur was conferred on someone
else (Waqai). But at the instance of Rani Hadi, the Rathors refused to yield Jodhpur, and prepared to
offer resistance.
In order to overawe Rani Hadi and her supporters, and to enforce his orders, Aurangzeb left Delhi for
Ajmer on January 9, 1679 at the head of a strong army. He also summoned Asad Khan, Shaista Khan and
prince Akbar to his side. The supporters of Rani Hadi were in no position to withstand these
overwhelming forces. Rani Hadi, therefore, gave way, and the Imperial forces entered Jodhpur. A
diligent search was now made for any hidden treasure the Maharaja may have left behind, the grounds
of Siwanah fort also being dug up in the process. A full complement of Mughal officers, including a qazi
and a muhtasib, were posted at Jodhpur and in other towns and parganas of Marwar. But Jodhpur fort
itself remained in the possession of Rani Hadi.
Meanwhile, news was received on 26 February of the birth of two posthumous sons to the Ranis of the
Maharaja at Lahore. This completely altered the picture. The claims of the sons of Jaswant Singh were
now supported, among others, by Rao Anup Singh, the ruler of Bikaner, and by Khan-i-Jahan, the
Imperial Bakshi. The claims of the various sides were pressed with a great deal of vigour and canvassing,
causing a good deal of annoyance to Aurangzeb. Finally on May 26, he gave the gaddi of Marwar to
Indra Singh for a peshkash of thirty-six lakhs of rupees.
Earlier, desparately seeking to delay a decision in favour of Indra Singh, Rani Hadi had secretly made an
astounding offer -that the Rathors would themselves destroy all the temples in
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Marwar if the tika was given to a son of Jaswant Singh. (Waqai). This offer which had been made at the
instance of Tahir Khan, the faujdar of Jodhpur, does no credit to Rani Hadi. Though it was duly rejected
by Aurangzeb, it shows the extent to which Aurangzeb’s motives were being misunderstood by the
Rajputs as well as by his own officials, a general impression having been created that Aurangzeb would
like to see even old Hindu temples destroyed on any excuse or opportunity. Some other actions of
Aurangzeb, such as the appointment of qazi and muhatsibs, etc. to Jodhpur and to the other towns of
Marwar, deputing teams of officials and stone-cutters to systematically demolish temples in Marwar as
if the Emperor had occupied hostile territory, and his decision to re -impose the jizyah after his return
from the Ajmer campaign were also bound to exacerbate Rajput fears and apprehensions, and to make
a peaceful solution of the dispute more difficult. As a last resort, Rani Hadi urged that rather than
Jodhpur being conferred upon Indra Singh, it should remain in khalisa. (Waqai)
If Aurangzeb had desired to reduce Marwar to “a quiescent dependency” in order to further his
objective of the forcible conversion of the Hindus, as has been suggested by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, he
should have accepted Rani Hadi’s offer and kept Marwar in khalisa. Or, he should have set up a minority
administration under one of the sons of Jaswant Singh and appointed a diwan to control the kingdom, as
had been done by Shah Jahan for some time. The main objection of the Rajputs to Indira Singh’s
appointment was apparently their fear that it would be a precedent that a direct descendant of a raja
may be set aside by the Mughal Emperor on his own. This, in conjunction with the apprehensions
created among the Rajputs by Aurangzeb’s other actions such as destruction of temples in Marwar, may
explain the subsequent developments.
On 15 April, the two minor sons of Jaswant Singh reached Delhi along with their mothers and Durga Das.
The Rajputs again pressed the claims of the two sons with great vehemence. Their claims were also
backed by Khan-i-Jahan, the Mir Bakshi, who had always considered Jaswant Singh a brother. But
Aurangzeb had already decided to partition the kingdom in order to satisfy the claims of both the sides.
Before the grant of the tika of Jodhpur to Indra Singh, Aurangzeb had offered a mansab to Ajit Singh, the
son of Jaswant Singh, who had been presented at the Court. After
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the event, it was again suggested that since Ajit Singh had Sojat and Jaitaran, he should serve the
Emperor by keeping a chauki of 500 men in the Deccan. (Bahi).
It may be noted that the assessed income of Sojat and Jaitaran was Rs. 4 lakhs, as against an assessed
income of about 6 lakhs for Jodhpur and Nagor. Such a division would have s eriously weakened Jodhpur,
and can only be explained in the context of Aurangzeb’s reservations about the Rajputs to which we
have referred above. The Rathor sardars, led by Durga Das, rejected this preferred compromise, which
they felt was against the best interests of the state. Angered at the rejection of his offer by the sardars,
Aurangzeb ordered that the princes and their mothers be put in confinement at the fort of Nurgarh. This
alarmed the Rajput sardars who escaped from Delhi with one of the princes after a valiant fight. The
arrival of Ajit Singh and Durga Das in Jodhpur led to great rejoicing, and was the beginning of a Rathor
uprising against the Mughals. Tahir Khan, who had been posted at Jodhpur, was compelled to retreat to
Merta, while Indra Singh, who had been camping near Jodhpur, had to retire to Nagor. Thus, all the
arrangements made by Aurangzeb collapsed, and a new stage was reached in the Marwar crisis. The
Rathors trooped into Jodhpur and, amid great rejoicing and on an auspicious moment, the tika was
given to the elder of the two sons with the title of Ajit Singh. In the flush of success, the Rathors ousted
Mughal officials from a number of other areas such as Jaitaran and Siwana. However, the Rathors failed
to dislodge the Mughals from Merta.
Aurangzeb seems now to have decided that the Rajputs needed to be taught a stern lesson. He deputed
a strong force under Sarbuland Khan to march on Jodhpur. Heavy reinforcements were called in from
the distant provinces. Soon afterwards, Indra Singh was removed from the gaddi on the ground that “he
was too incompetent to rule the country and put down the disturbances”. According to the Imperial
news-reporter, there was “disaffection of people high and low towards Indra Singh and their total
opposition to him”. (Waqai). This step could have cleared the ground for an agreement with Ajit Singh,
for Aurangzeb’s action implied revertion to the position which existed before the recognition of Indra
Singh, and was in line with the suggestion of Rani Hadi, that Jodhpur should be kept under khalisa till the
claims of Jaswant Singh’s sons were accepted. The fact that the
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child who had been left behind by the Rajputs at Agra, and whom Aurangzeb pretended to regard as
genuine, was converted to Islam, named Muhammadi Raj and ordered to be brought up in the haratn, is
not a proof of the evil intention of Aurangzeb for it was a well known convention that if a raja’s son
changed his religion, willingly or unwillingly, he lost all claim to his hereditary principality. Thus, after
defeating Jujhar Singh Bundela, Shah Jahan had conferred the gaddi on his cousin, Devi Singh, and had
either killed the sons of Jujhar Singh or converted them to Islam in order that they may forfeit their right
to the gaddi for all time.
However, for the time being, Aurangzeb insisted that Ajit Singh who had escaped with Durga Das was an
imposter (jali bachcha). He thus ruled out any negotiations with him. After a sharp engagement near
Ajmer in August with Tahawwur Khan, the Imperial faujdar, the Rathors did not risk any further pitched
battles with the Mughals, but retreated into the desert tracts, to carry on sporadic warfare. Towards the
end of September, Aurangzeb himself reached Ajmer. For the time being, resistance in Marwar had
been crushed and the Rathor capital, Jodhpur, occupied. Even Rani Hadi submitted after some time, and
was allotted the pargana of Baran for her maintenance. Durga Das escaped with Ajit Singh to the Mewar
territories where he was welcomed by the Rana, and the jagir of Kelwa was allotted for the maintenance
of Ajit Singh.
Mewar
If the Rathors had not received active help and encouragement from Rana Raj Singh from the outset, it
is likely that their resistance to Aurangzeb would have collapsed. Out of all the states in Rajasthan, only
Mewar was in a position to defy the Mughals for any length of time on account of its size, terrain and
geographical location. Although Rana Amar Singh had submitted to the Mughals in 1615, the Ranas
could never forget that at one time they had dominated southern and eastern Rajputana from Ajmer to
Malwa, and from the boundary of Gujarat to the outskirts of Agra. Under Akbar and his successors,
other Rajput states, such as Marwar, Bikaner and Amber had forged ahead. With Mughal support and
patronage, the rulers of these states had consolidated and extended their hereditary principalities by
bringing under their subjection territories which were controlled by an intermediate range ofrajas and
zamindars. No such favours
309
had been extended to Mewar. On the other hand, it had been subjected to galling restrictions regarding
Chittor, and Imperial policy had moved in the direction of granting an independent status not only to
Harauti but to some of the states on the southern border of Mewar, such as Banswara, Durgapur,
Pratapgarh, Devaliya, etc. To crown the humiliation, a number of Mewar parganas had been
sequestered by Shah Jahan in 1654 for a breach of the agreement regarding Chittor. The Ranas of
Mewar felt hemmed in by the Mughals, and chafed at the restrictions placed on them, leading to a
decline in their real position in Rajasthana. Aurangzeb had tried to take advantage of the mood of sullen
resentment in Mewar by drawing Rana Raj Singh into an alliance with him during the war of succession.
Though he made a number of concessions to the Rana, he could hardly honour the vague promise held
out by him of restoring the Rana to the position and honour enjoyed by (Rana) Sangram Singh. Rana Raj
Singh, therefore, gradually drifted away from Aurangzeb, and the mood of sullen resentment returned.
Meanwhile, under Jaswant Singh and Mirza Raja Rai Singh, Marwar and Amber remained the most
influential of the Rajput states, and continued to augment their position and territories.
The disputed succession in Marwar was apparently viewed by Rana Raj Singh as an opportunity for reasserting the importance of Mewar in Rajput affairs. He may have only desired to emphasize that the
question of succession in an important state like Marwar should not be settled without taking into
account the wishes of the leading Rajput rulers, particularly the Rana of Mewar. Or, he may also have
hoped that in an administration or a regency dominated by Rani Hadi, who was a sister of the Rana’s
wife, the Rana’s help and guidance would be eagerly sought. Thus, the interest taken by the Rana in the
Marwar dispute cannot be explained merely on the basis of support to the principle of legitimacy, for he
had extended support to Rani Hadi at a time before the two posthumous sons of Jaswant Singh had
been born, and the claim of Indra Singh was the strongest from the point of view of legitimacy. Nor can
it be explained on the ground of an implied threat to the Hindu religion for there is no evidence of any
protest on the part of the Rana against Aurangzeb’s policy regarding temples and his re-imposition of
the jizyah. Nor, contrary to general belief, was the
310
mother of Ajit Singh a relation of the Rana. She was the granddaughter of Raja Chhatra Man of Karauli
and the daughter of Kr. Bhopal. Thus the Rana had no personal interest in the succession of Ajit Singh.
The close involvement of Mewar in the Marwar succession from the outset made it likely that the war in
Marwar would extend to Mewar also. Both sides were conscious of this. The Maharana fortified Chittor
and closed the Debari pass leading to the Mewar capital, Udaipur, from the north. The real reason for
Aurangzeb’s moving upto Ajmer, assembling such a large army and summoning important commanders,
including a number of princes, was based on a conviction on his part that an extention of the conflict
involving Mewar was inevitable.
Aurangzeb struck the first blow, and in November 1678, advanced up on Mewar. A strong detachment
under Hasan Ali Khan penetrated upto Udaipur from the east and even raided the Rana’s camp in the
interior. The Rana abandoned the plains and even his capital, and reti red into the deep hills to conduct a
harassing warfare against the Mughals. Thereafter, Aurangzeb retired to Ajmer, leaving his sons and
generals to occupy the plains, keep the Rana bottled up in the hills, and lay waste the country under his
occupation. With the outbreak of the Mewar war, Marwar became a secondary sector though sporadic
Rathor resistance continued.
The Mughals had no heart in the type of harassing and desultory warfare which now began, all the
advangatges of terrain, local knowledge and local support being in favour of the Rajputs. The Mughal
soldiers and commanders were loath to advance into the hills in pursuit of the Rajputs. All that
Aurangzeb could do was to repeatedly admonish and warn his commanders. As the war lengthened into
a stalemate, Indra Singh renewed his claims and represented that all the troubles of the Imperialists
would end if Aurangzeb would restore him to the gaddi of Marwar. (Waqai)
Aurangzeb now formed a plan of bringing Mewar to its knees by penetrating the main redoubt of the
Maharana in the Kumbhalmir area from the west across the Desuri pass. Fighting in the hills was never a
strong point with the Mughals, and the Rajput War, it seems, had become highly unpopular with all
ranks. Apparently, there was a good deal of scepticism that
311
Aurangzeb could succeed in bringing the Rana to his knees in a short time when both Akbar and Jahangir
had failed to do so. Hence the progress of the Mughal forces was halting and slow. The Rana now
proposed to the Mughals to come to terms. The Rathors too renewed the plea for the restoration of Ajit
Singh, and protested their loyalty to the Empire, promising complete restoration of peace in Marwar if
their terms were accepted. However, these overtures which had been made through Tahawwur Khan
were turned down by Aurangzeb.
This was the situation when Rana Raj Singh passed away in September 1680. His death removed the
chief bond of unity between the Sishodias and the Rathors. Even earlier, there had been friction
between the Rathors and the Rana, Durga Das declining to accompany Kunwar Bhim Singh on a raid into
Gujarat, and refusing to resort to a guerilla type of warfare on the ground that it was the Rajput custom
to fight an open war. It had also been proposed to the Mughals by Sonak Bhati on behalf of Durga Das
that the pargana of Gorwar should be detached from Mewar, and allotted to Ajit Singh as his jagir,
presumably to compensate him for the loss of Jodhpur. The new Rana, Jai Singh, who knew of these
secret proposals had become lukewarm in Ajit Singh’s cause.
The rebellion of Prince Akbar in January 1681, his attempt to seize Ajmer in alliance with Durga Das and
Tahawwur Khan, and his subsequent flight to Maharashtra are well known. These developments suggest
that Aurangzeb’s Rajput policy had caused widespread concern, not only among the Rajputs but in a
section of the Mughal nobility as well. However, the collapse of Prince Akbar’s rebellion also showed
that very few of the nobles were prepared on that account to go so far as to rise in rebellion against a
reigning monarch who was in full possession of his faculties.
The rebellion of Prince Akbar failed to bring about any change in Aurangzeb’s Rajput policies. Rana Jai
Singh was keen to reestablish peace, but Aurangzeb imposed stiff conditions on him. The Maharana
were forced to cede the paragnas of Mandal, Bidnur and Mandalgarh in lieu of jizyah, and to promise
not to support the Rathors. Apparently, the parganas of Dungarpur, Devaliya, etc. which had been
granted to Raj Singh in view of a rise in his mansab from 5000 to 6000 were also sequestered. In return
for agreeing to these terms, Jagat Singh was restored and accorded a mansab of 5000/ 5000. Regarding
Ajit Singh, Aurangzeb
312
was prepared only to reiterate his earlier promise that mansab and raj would be given to him when he
came of age.
The period from 1681 to 1707 is a peculiarly barren one from the view point of the relations of the
Mughals with the states of Rajputana. During this period, the Rathor War continued to be waged
intermittently and with varying degrees of intensity. Its most romantic phase was f rom 1681 to 1686
when Durga Das was away in Maharashtra with Prince Akbar, and Ajit Singh was in hiding in Sirohi.
During this phase, the struggle was conducted by individual captains in isolation from each other. With
the return of Durga Das to Marwar in 1686, and with the appearance of Ajit Singh in person to head the
resistance, the Rathors gained a number of victories. But Shujaat Khan, a brave and intrepid warrior who
held the charge of faujdar of Jodhpur and governor of Gujarat from 1689 to 1701, once again put the
Rathors on the defensive. Negotiations between Durga Das and the Mughals which were carried on
intermittently from 1692, led to a slackening of the operations. In 1696, the Rana of Mewar married his
niece to Ajit Singh, thus giving a final blow to Aurangzeb’s pretence that he was an imposter. The same
year, Prince Akbar’s daughter, who had been left behind in Marwar in 1681, was returned to Aurangzeb
by the Rathors to show their goodwill. However, no wider agreement could be reached as Aurangzeb
refused to return Jodhpur to Ajit Singh, though he was now prepared to recognise Ajit Singh and his
claim to the rest of the state. At last, in 1698, Ajit Singh reluctantly agreed to let Jodhpur remain in
Mughal possession, and was recognised as the ruler of Marwar, along with grant of a mansab. However,
he remained dissatisfied on account of Jodhpur, and rose in rebellion in 1701, and again in 1706, but
without success.
The Rana of Mewar, too, remained dissatisfied. He demanded the restoration of the parganas of
Mandal, Bidnur and Mandalgarh before he would agree to supply the contingent of 1000 horse for
service as required by the Rana’s mansab. In 1684, Aurangzeb restored the parganas, but stipulated that
the Maharana agree to pay in cash a sum of rupees one lakh annually by way of jizyah. This led to
further disputes and the matter could not be resolved. A Mewar contingent of much less that the
required contingent of 1000 horse reached Gujarat only in 1702. But the question of Mandal, Bidnur and
Mandalgarh remained a bone of contention. The Rana also attempted to reassert his control over
Dungarpur,
313
Banswara, etc. which led to complaints to the Emperor. That Aurangzeb’s policy was considered wrong
by a section at the court is indicated by the fact that Prince Azam, who was the favourite of his father
and was regarded as the most likely to succeed to the throne, formed a secret pact with the Rana
promising to restore the parganas and abandon the demand for jizyah in lieu of the Rana’s support in a
war of succession.
Aurangzeb’s breach with Marwar and Mewar in 1679 does not signify his breach with the Rajputs as
such. The rulers of Amber, Bikaner, Bundi and Kota continued to serve in the Mughal armies even after
1679. After the death of Ram Singh in 1688, Raja Bishan Singh of Amber was given a mansab of 3000,
and appointed the faujdar of Mathura in which capacity he fought many battles against the Jats. Raja
Anup Singh of Bikaner and his son, Kesari Singh, as well as Rao Bhao of Bundi and his son and successor,
Anirudha Kishore Singh, served in the Deccan and also against the Jats, with Kishore Singh rising to the
rank of 2500/3000. None of the other Rajput rajas rose to a rank above 3500 zat. The young Jai Singh,
successor to Bishan Singh, came to .the Deccan for service in 1698, and was accorded the mansab of
2000/2000 (1000 du-aspa sih-aspa). He gave a good account of himself at the siege of Kh«lna and won
the favour of Prince Bidar Bakhat. But Aurangzeb rturned down the Prince’s suggestion to appoint Jai
Singh as deputy governor of Malwa.
Since the rulers of Amber, Bikaner and Harauti continued to serve the Mughals, and to receive imperial
mansabs/it would be wrong to consider the prolonged wars with Marwar and Mewar as constituting an
abandonment of Akbar’s policy of alliance with the Rajputs which, in turn, was a part of a larger policy of
alliance with influential local ruling elements, including the zamindars. As recent research has shown,
the number of the Marathas steadily increased with the passage of time.
However, there was a change in the relationship of the Rajputs and the Mughal state. At the beginning,
Aurangzeb considered the Rajputs to be partners in the kingdom: they were given important positions
and commands, and Jai Singh was close to Aurangzeb and played an important role in policy
formulation. These cordial relations became strained, and after the death of Jai Singh, the Rajputs were
stationed in frontier areas in the east, and the north-west and there was an attempt to reduce the total
314
number of grants given to the Rajputs. However, they continued to be regarded as sword-arms of the
empire. In the final phase, after 1679, the military role of the Rajputs in the Deccan is minimal. They are
still regarded as allies, but even their loyalty was suspect. Thus, in place of an upward spiral, as in the
time of Akbar, there was a downward spiral.
Was this change of policy merely a reflection of Aurangzeb’s narrow religious policies, and his suspicious
nature? Both had something to contribute because Aurangzeb’s attitude towards Marwar and Mewar
seems to be based more on suspicion and pique than part of any well formulated policy. It may,
however, be argued that with the gradual consolidation of the Mughal empire in the north, and the shift
of emphasis to the conquest of the Deccan and the compulsion of accommodating the local ruling
elements, specifically the Marathas into the nobility, alliance with the Rajputs had lost its urgency. In a
manner of speaking, the Rajput rajas now needed the alliance more than the Mughals in order to
maintain their internal positions, and to augment their limited resources by grant of jagirs outside
Rajasthan in addition to their watan. The decline in the real importance of the Rajputs was concealed, to
some extent, by the personal positions acquired by Jai Singh and Jaswant Singh in the courts of Shah
Jahan and Aurangzeb. As it was, from the tune of Shah Jahan, the Marathas had begun to outclass the
Rajputs in the service. But for the conflict with Shivaji, and the uncertainty in the minds of the Maratha
sardars about Mughal policies in the Deccan, this development would have been even faster than it
actually was.
The effect of the breach with Marwar and Mewar on the Mughal Empire should not be overestimated.
The scale of the Mughal military operations in the area after the treaty with the Rana in 1681 was too
small to effect the Mughal operations elsewhere, or to constitute a serious drain. Nor is there evidence
that hostilities in the area seriously affected the overland trade to the Cambay sea ports.
We may, however, agree with Sir Jadunath Sarkar that “the loss caused to Aurangzeb by his Rajput
policy cannot be measured solely by the men and money he poured on that desert soil”. Inability to
settle the issues concerning these states affected the
315
prestige of the empire, and increased the area of lawlessness. Above all, it created doubts about the
political sagacity of Aurangzeb as well as his bonafides in his dealings with non-Muslims. This helped to
swell the tide of political disaffection and religious discord in the country, and was also reflected in the
efforts of various royal princes to intrigue with the Rajput rajas, and to form their own groups and
factions.

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